Thursday, June 3, 2010

Time's Coming Short

Time's Coming Short
(this is what Irena’s sister Jane said when she heard we were leaving on Friday)

Eddie for the ENV students:
Today I awoke knowing I had a busy yet gratifying day ahead of me. As I opened my eyes I realized that the peaceful, meaningful, and life changing existence I am fortunate enough to experience on this magnificent island is dwindling. As I write this there are currently 36 hours until we board our plane to get back to our hectic modern lives. Today I was able to take all of my experiences in as my team and I worked hard in the tropic climate in order to accomplish our interpretive nature trail. This trail project is special to all who have lent a helpful hand because, we truly believe this awe inspiring estate can invoke deep meaningful emotions in all who wander her natural gardens. Andrew, Mandy, and myself started the day hiking the 75 acres taking waypoints in a handheld GPS in order to map the boundaries of the property. Win, Andrea, and Lara walked around the areas along our trail where the benches would be assembled and began to take panoramic photos so that an accurate description of the flora and fauna could be compiled and added to a brochure for any guest who would want to embark on our newly made nature trail. After a couple of hours of work it was time for lunch. This was not our ordinary lunch. Irene invited us all to her home where a massive Lucian buffet awaits us. With this said I would like to personally thank Patricia for the close level interactions she managed to include us in throughout the island. It hit me today that this study abroad trip was special. It can be intimidating but it could not be duplicated. This trip was life changing and has got me closer to choosing the life I want to follow. These were the thoughts running through my head at lunch. After this food indulgence the environmental students got back to the trail. We found some old palms and used the chain saw and cut the logs necessary to assemble the benches. We then used the cutlasses (island talk for machetes) to cut stakes to hold the logs in place along our trail. Lara and Andrew walked around and screwed in the lag bolts to secure the benches as the rest of us carried the bench pieces to the proper locations. This consumed the rest of our afternoon and as the sun began to set the forests around us awakened and the insects around us made their presence well known. I have grown accustomed to this life style in the short time I have inhabited St. Lucia and will have fond memories that will last a life time. I am certain I will return to this place again. Reality is setting in now and I plan to enjoy the rest of my evening on the beautiful Balenbouche grounds. As they say...“I’m there.”

Jan for the ART students:
We fired the new kiln today! Arrived up at Alicia’s and removed the arch form from the inside of the kiln and the arch stayed up ! The kiln was in wonderful shape and we all helped load her pots into the kiln and cover them with sheet metal and shards from broken pots. Before actually lighting the firing, however, we all joined hands around the kiln and Alicia offered up a prayer of thanksgiving for life, for this effort, and for family and community. It was amazing – she was so articulate, it was really moving, and we all had tears in our eyes. With the addition of a little kerosene on the kindling, the firing began and almost immediately we could see that the draught was working fine and the heat was being pulled through the kiln. When the firing was fully underway, we left Alicia and went over to Irena’s for that fabulous lunch, a demonstration next door of traditional lathe work by her husband’s uncle Blanc Alphonse, and to watch Irena start up her own wood-fired kiln. Then it was back to Alicia’s to see how the firing was working out, and when Catty joined us they had a very animated discussion in patois about whether the pots were ready. The conclusion was YES, the kiln had gotten quite hot and it was time to shut it down. So the coals were raked out and quenched with water, and the metal and shard coverings over the pots were pushed aside. The pots were done ! Success ! Finally it was back to Irena’s to shell tamarinds with her while waiting for her kiln to finish, then off to the grocery store in Vieux Fort to prep for an informal (and wonderful) indoor picnic back at Balenbouche. Another lovely day !